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PhD Preparation Course: Preparing for the level of Doctoral Studies at the London College of Fashion - history, theory and practice

PhD Preparation Course: Preparing for the level of Doctoral Studies at the London College of Fashion - history, theory and practice

London College of Fashion
Taught by
Tutor to be confirmed


“In my six months on the PhD preparation course at London College of Fashion, I grew on both an intellectual and creative level, accumulating not just specific knowledge of my subject area, but a range of attributes to think critically and constructively as a researcher. With the help of my supervision team, I was able to further develop my research idea, which resulted in a unique and viable doctoral research project. Upon completion of the programme, I proved to both myself and to others that I have the preservation, initiative and intellectual creativity necessary to study at a doctorate level of academia.” Anna Boonstra, inaugural PhD Preparation Course student. 

Course overview:

This pioneering short course will prepare you for the challenges of progressing from postgraduate taught studies to independent research at MPhil and PhD level within the UK, as well as enabling you to develop and extend your professional practice through the application of research methodologies.
The course is of particular relevance to those wishing to study at Doctorate level, but who have not yet identified a precise research question or defined a clear contribution to academic knowledge – both essential criteria at this level.

This course is based at London College of Fashion (LCF), part of the University of the Arts London (UAL).  UAL’s research was recently assessed as being 83% world leading and international in the UK Research Excellence Framework (2014) for Art & Design, History, Practice, and Theory. Consequently UAL is ranked a top 5 research university in its broader peer group in the UK and first in the Power Ranking for Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory category.

Course duration and curriculum:

The course offers options for either 6 months full-time or 12 months part-time study, and individuals can join at certain points in the academic year according to their learning needs and external commitments. The course is largely designed around the individual, who will be assigned a dedicated personal mentor for weekly meetings, and further supported with additional monthly meetings with key supervisors from the world-class pool of researchers at LCF. 

Thereafter, upon careful consultation with your team, a personalised programme of work is developed for you. This will cover the principle aims and requirements of MPhil / PhD study, how to concisely define and frame a doctorate research project, and an understanding of a range of research methodologies. 

You will also be directed towards a range of learning opportunities within LCF, including classes, lectures, seminars, events, and the wider research community of Research Centres, Hubs, Professors, Readers, and Research Fellows. 

This will enable you to become fully acquainted with the British academic system as well as experiencing the expansive range of disciplines, theories and methods pertaining to the study and wider practices of fashion: performance; design; artefact; psychology; cosmetic science; social sciences; sustainable design; curation; cultural studies; creative branding and marketing; film, media and digital production and cultures. 

In addition to the weekly contact sessions, you will likely be asked to complete approximately three written assignments, including a 1,500 word essay in months 1 or 2 (full-time model), a 5-7,000 word essay in months 3 - 5, and a realized MPhil / PhD application proposal in month 6 accompanied by a final research presentation. Each essay should focus on a selected topic or theme related to your evolving study area and agreed in accordance with your team. These will initiate a process of academically framing your research and situating project ideas in a wider cultural landscape, including the citation of significant exhibitions, practitioners, researchers, publications and journals. 

Course tutors:

Your Director of Studies, will be Senior Research Fellow Simon Thorogood, who will be your principal point of contact throughout the programme. Together you will meet in person once a week to review progress and appraise written assignments. Typically you will be required to conduct further research and/or written assignments between meetings.

Depending on the nature of your research topic, you may have access to other key LCF researchers, all highly experienced in their field and many of which are qualified PhD supervisors. As such, you will be uniquely supported in developing a specialized research area with an accompanying critical research question required for progression at MPhil / PhD level.


This course has a limited number of places and is usually aimed at those who have previously studied at post-graduate level. It is also aimed at industry professionals who require support in developing a research proposal, and familiarising themselves with the British doctoral research system.

The course is delivered in English and applicants whose first language is not English should have an English language score equivalent to I.E.L.T.S 7.0 + (with a 7.0 in writing) or above.

Course entry points:

The Preparation Course at LCF can be joined at certain designed points in the academic year. September / October proves to the most popular enrolment period, which allows students to commence the programme at the same time as new intake PhD / MPhil students, whilst late January / early February is another popular starting point. 

These entry points provide a realistic timescale for students to develop their ideas into a PhD proposal for the UK PhD application submission deadlines, usually in mid-April, whether at LCF or beyond. 

To make an application:

The course fee is £8000.  Please complete and submit the following application form, before making any payments.

Application for PhD Preparation (Word)

Your application will be carefully reviewed and considered and we will make contact with a decision as soon as possible, usually within one working week. Where we feel you might not be suited to the course, for whatever reason, we will endeavour to provide limited feedback and comment.

For additional information please contact programme director, Simon Thorogood:

Important information:

Currently, the Research Methods & Preparation Course is not certified. This means that all students attending and completing this programme will NOT receive a certificate or award at this time. Furthermore, as a UAL designated short course, the programme does not support Tier 4 international study visas. 

However, subject to agreement, the programme can be partially conducted remotely, i.e., via email, Skype, FaceTime, Go-To-Meeting, or other recognised channels, alongside periodic one-to-one meeting points on campus throughout the duration of the course.

Whilst, the aim is to enable students to develop a proficient MPhil / PhD application proposal, it is also clearly stressed that the course does not guarantee a fail-safe proposal or where completion of the course will guarantee a place on any MPhil PHD program, at LCF, elsewhere in the UK or internationally.

However, whether an applicant chooses to continue with, or has met the criteria to enter into MPhil / PHD study, the PhD Preparation & Research Methods Course at LCF offers a critical new learning portal, and where it can facilitate a distinctive less linear, more adventurous and playful start to an individual’s research career. It can also allow the student to progress faster and with more certainty and confidence in any subsequent MPhil / PhD programme, and as such it can be shown to save the student both time and money in the long run. 

We very much look forward to working with you and embarking together on a challenging yet inspiring journey of discovery. 

Tutor Description

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